Hireling Preacher

Hireling Preacher

As we think about seeking a co-worker at Troy lets make sure our attitude is right.  I understand that there are questions that need to be asked, please read the article. KP


Hireling Preachers


By Rod Ross

For whom does a preacher work? Is he hired to work for the local congregation and do their bidding? Or is the preacher supported by the congregation as he does the work of God?

At first glance, for most people these seems to be asking the same question in two different ways. Ideally, they would be. However, they approach the position of the preacher from two different directions.

Take a look again at these questions:

For whom does the preacher work?

When Paul speaks to Timothy about his responsibility and work as a preacher and/or evangelist, in both of his letters to Timothy he uses the phrase “I charge you before God” (1 Timothy 5:21; 2 Timothy 4:1). It is a responsibility before God to “do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of your ministry” (2 Timothy 4:5). He is working for God (1 Corinthians 9:16).

Is he hired to work for the local congregation and do their bidding?

This is the concept of many churches. They ask for applications like they are hiring a clerk for the local hardware store. They list a criteria of qualifications which would eliminate most if not all of the evangelists of the New Testament, the apostles of Jesus Christ, and the Savior, himself: education, marital status, children, prison record, level of eloquence, and ability to get along with everyone.

Education is a wonderful thing. However, it depends upon what your education taught you. A preacher needs to be educated in the Word of God. Does that mean a degree from a seminary? A doctorate may be impressive on a resume, but it can have no bearing on whether the individual may “speak as the oracles of God.”

I spoke to a seminary student in Arizona several years ago who although he had obtained a bachelor’s and master’s degrees and was working on his doctorate, had never read the New Testament, let alone the Bible, all the way through.

I have recently run into former preachers of the truth, who because of their seminary education have left the truth.

Does a college education or a preacher training school education necessarily give the proper education? Depends upon the school and the student.

Does forty years of studying the Bible give the proper education? Can the proper instruction be received from God’s Word? Unquestionably, it is the proper subject, but again it depends upon the student.

Even those instructed by the apostles did not always have the proper concept of the truth – not because they were taught wrong, but because of the heart of the student.

Marital status should be scriptural – whether it is single (as were Paul and Timothy) or married (as was Peter). The idea of team preaching with husband and wife is contrary to scriptural precedent.

I was once asked what my wife will do to support my ministry. I asked what their wives did. 

Their reply was you are not hiring us. I replied, you are not hiring my wife.

The idea is that the church can dictate what the wife will do because she is part of “the package deal.” I realize that preacher’s wives have created problems, but so have members’ wives.

We want someone with children. Why? So your children will have someone to play with? This idea doesn’t make sense.

If the local church was given an application that included an arrest record of several occasions where jail time was assessed they would drop it quicker than a hot potato. Would they hire Paul?

Eloquence is nice. Apollos was eloquent; but Paul was not. Eloquence does not equal knowledge nor effectiveness. Truthfulness to the word is preferable.

The ability to get along with others – at what cost? Preaching the truth – from the prophets to the apostles – upset people. Preaching the truth still upsets people. Read the Gospels. Read the Book of Acts. Read 2 Corinthians 4:1-5:21. Do we want the truth or peace at any price?

Yes, there is a need for amiability – but not at the cost of the truth. The wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable.

Congregations hire preachers to do what they want done. Many times, way too many times, that means their attitude is like my doctor in Arizona: he hired his preacher to do his religion. 

Churches hire preachers to practice their Christianity for them. He is to visit the sick. He is to help the poor. He is to teach the lost. He is to do everything they are supposed to do: after all, they pay him don’t they. He is the slave of the church, and of every member in particular, to jump at their bidding.

In addition to these scriptural services, he is also to provide an entertainment service for the children and the adults, acting as an activities director. He directs camps, holds parties, schedules trips (shopping and sight-seeing for the adults – ski trips, movies, white water rafting and amusement parks for the kids of all ages). He is also to act as athletic director and coach for golf, softball, volleyball, soccer and basketball teams. Can you see Paul, Barnabas, Apollos, Peter, Timothy or Titus doing this in the scriptures?

And then we wonder why his sermons are so shallow, and he does not spend more time in preparation. And why doesn’t he spend more time with his wife and children?

He is begrudged any time preaching the gospel for meetings and revivals. He is being paid to work for the local congregation.

He needs to account for every minute of every day, and must work a minimum of six days per week, twelve hours per day, because if he expects others to work their jobs and do “church work” too, he must set an example. And Sundays and Wednesday nights may not count towards that because everyone is to be there anyway.

And all of this ought to be done on less than any of the members take home. They don’t stop to think of the 20% social security that comes out of the check, the state and local and federal tax (including the fair rental value of the home “provided for free”), the need for retirement and health insurance and life insurance, the cost of maintaining the knowledge they want him to have, the cost of operating his vehicle for business use, the lack of equity and security and freedom created by living in a church supplied house (which increases the social security). Not to mention the aggravation of living in a home that half the congregation believes is their home and tell you how to clean, decorate and arrange the furniture: not to mention that they feel free to schedule everything in “the church’s home.”

Or is the preacher supported by the congregation as he does the work of God?

With this approach the preacher and the congregation work together to do the work of God. 

He and they are the servants of God, the ministers of God. Neither one “works” for the other, both work for God and serve one another.

The primary consideration for the church is the soundness of the preacher: does he teach the truth in love, proclaiming the whole counsel of God. Does he fill the responsibility that God has given to the preacher and/or evangelist (2 Corinthians 4:1-7; 2 Timothy 4:1-5; etc.)

Qualification are to be If any one purifies himself from what is ignoble, then he will be a vessel for noble use, consecrated and useful to the master of the house, ready for any good work. So shun youthful passions and aim at righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call upon the Lord from a pure heart. Have nothing to do with stupid, senseless controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kindly to everyone, an apt teacher, forbearing, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant that they will repent and come to know the truth, and they may escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.

(2Ti 2:21-26)


The church, then, rather than looking  at someone who works for them, looks at someone who is working with them, whom they will support and help.

Let him who is taught the word share all good things with him who teaches.

(Gal 6:6 RSV) 


The preacher is not the hireling of the church; he is a preacher of the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ – a co-worker for the Lord, no better, but no worse than any other member of the church.


and not all are children of Abraham because they are his descendants; but "Through Isaac shall your descendants be named." This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are reckoned as descendants. For this is what the promise said, "About this time I will return and Sarah shall have a son." And not only so, but also when Rebecca had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad, in order that God's purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of his call, she was told, "The elder will serve the younger." As it is written, "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated." What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God's part? By no means! For he says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion." So it depends not upon man's will or exertion, but upon God's mercy. For the scripture says to Pharaoh, "I have raised you up for the very purpose of showing my power in you, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth." So then he has mercy upon whomever he wills, and he hardens the heart of whomever he wills. You will say to me then, "Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?"

(Rom 9:7-19 RSV) 


He is to fulfill his duty to God. That is his concern: to instruct saint and sinner in the Word of the Lord. If he does this, he has not time for frivolous matters.